Communicating about sex when it matters: a content analytic investigation of sexual health information on college student health center websites

Samantha J. Stanley, Kun Yan, Jian Jiao, Bethany R. Lutovsky, Jennifer Stevens Aubrey, Margaret Jane Pitts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Young adults struggle to achieve sexual health. Student health centers (SHCs) are uniquely positioned to provide young adults with credible and complete sexual health information. Using the comprehensive model of information seeking for theoretical guidance, we conducted a content analysis to examine the credibility and completeness of sexual health information available to young adults through SHC websites at 400 randomly selected U.S. colleges/universities. Unfortunately, most SHC websites do not provide complete sexual health information, which may decrease the credibility of SHCs as a source of sexual health information for young adults. Topics related to sexual health predominantly focused on prevention and risk topics (i.e. sexually transmitted diseases, contraception, and pregnancy). We offer practical suggestions for SHC webpages to align their sexual health information content with the American College Health Association standards of practice and point to a scholarly focus on content characteristics and information availability to complement information seeking studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)591-610
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Applied Communication Research
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sep 3 2019



  • comprehensive model of information seeking
  • content analysis
  • information availability
  • Sexual health
  • student health centers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics

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